Daily April poem: lifecycle event
Daily April poem: inspired by a Yiddish folksong

Announcing Waiting to Unfold, new from Phoenicia!

I could not be more delighted to announce this news:

Waiting to Unfold has been published by Phoenicia Publishing, and its launch date is today!

it costs a mere $13.95 (US, CAN) / £9.10 / €10.66 and is available at Phoenicia Publishing and on Amazon (and Amazon UK and Amazon Europe) -- though twice as much goes to publisher and author if you buy it directly from Phoenicia.


Waiting to Unfold offers an unflinching and honest look at the challenges and blessings of early parenthood.

Poet and rabbi Rachel Barenblat wrote one poem during each week of her son's first year of life, chronicling the wonder and the delight along with the pain of learning to nurse, the exhaustion of sleep deprivation, and the dark descent into -- and eventual ascent out of -- postpartum depression.

Barenblat brings her rabbinic training and deep spirituality to bear on this quintessential human experience. She also resists sentimentality or rosy soft-focus. While some of these are poems of wonder, others were written in the trenches.

These poems resist and refute the notion that anyone who doesn't savor every instant of exalted motherhood deserves stigma and shame. And they uncover the sweetness folded in with the bitter.

By turns serious and funny, aching and transcendent, these poems take an unflinching look at one woman's experience of becoming a mother.

These rich poems will carry you into the great timeless miracle and mystery of unfolding littleness, nonstop maternal alertness, beauty and exhaustion and amazing, exquisite tenderness, oh yes. -- Naomi Shihab Nye, author of Fuel and The Words Under the Words

The intense observation of the poet and the intense observation of the mother unite in a celebration of what is new and newborn, what is intensely felt and cherished and what is lost and mourned. Rachel Barenblat's poems are easy to enter into, and they carry both the uniqueness of her persona as poet and serious Jew and the universality of love that has made us all. There's a subversive wit here too, -- a changing table that's also a throne of glory, or the baby chewing on his mother's tefillin -- that speaks to a newly emerging sensibility about what is reverent and what is holy. It's in the everyday as our best American poets have taught us, and as Rachel Barenblat teaches us in a new way too. -- Rodger Kamenetz, author of The Jew in the Lotus and the lowercase jew

In these remarkable poems Rachel Barenblat traverses the world of first-time parenthood with insight, generosity, rare courage. She shares first innocent awe, then unexpected darkness as a winter of the soul claims squatter's rights in the nursery, and finally, aching, yearning, growing toward hope, a relearning of holy presence in small things. We ascend and plummet on the rollercoaster with her, terror in the pit of the stomach, knuckles white, and then -- unparalleled joy. "Daily I expand how much I can love/ your toes, your cough, your raised eyebrow... Each day your glee polishes my rough edges/ and I shine[.]" New parents will be astonished that someone has found words for their deepest secrets, parents long past these early months will gratefully nod -- yes, I remember, this is true. -- Merle Feld, author of A Spiritual Life: Exploring the Heart and Jewish Tradition and Finding Words

The book was designed by publisher Beth Adams; the cover art is a detail from "Creation," a mixed-media collage by the wonderful Mary Bullington.

Every book's launch feels a bit like a birth, but this one perhaps more than most. I'll have more to say later about the book and how it came into being, but for now, please join me in popping the cork on some virtual champagne.

And I hope you'll buy a copy for yourself -- for your mom (Mother's Day is coming soon in a lot of countries, including mine) -- for every pregnant woman you know -- for every parent you know, whether their kids are babies or senior citizens  -- for anyone you know who has struggled with depression  -- for anyone you know who loves poetry -- and for anyone you know who's interested in the implausible and amazing transformations entailed in a baby's first year of life, and a woman's first year of becoming something new.

(Phoenicia also published 70 faces in 2011. And they've published many other fantastic books of poetry, many of which I've reviewed here over the years. Support independent publishing! Buy copies for your friends!)